Manon Lescaut - Abbe Prevost - Страница 1 из 229


MANON LESCAUT
by
Abbe Prevost
I
Why did he love her? Curious fool, be still!
Is human love the fruit of human will?
BYRON.
Just about six months before my departure for Spain, I first met the
Chevalier des Grieux. Though I rarely quitted my retreat, still the
interest I felt in my child's welfare induced me occasionally to
undertake short journeys, which, however, I took good care to abridge
as much as possible.
I was one day returning from Rouen, where I had been, at her request,
to attend a cause then pending before the Parliament of Normandy,
respecting an inheritance to which I had claims derived from my
maternal grandfather. Having taken the road by Evreux, where I slept
the first night, I on the following day, about dinner-time, reached
Passy, a distance of five or six leagues. I was amazed, on entering
this quiet town, to see all the inhabitants in commotion. They were
pouring from their houses in crowds, towards the gate of a small inn,
immediately before which two covered vans were drawn up. Their horses
still in harness, and reeking from fatigue and heat, showed that the
cortege had only just arrived. I stopped for a moment to learn the
cause of the tumult, but could gain little information from the curious
mob as they rushed by, heedless of my enquiries, and hastening
impatiently towards the inn in the utmost confusion. At length an
archer of the civic guard, wearing his bandolier, and carrying a
carbine on his shoulder, appeared at the gate; so, beckoning him


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